Is “Universalism” Biblical?

When tragedy strikes, such as the recent Orlando Massacre, many people want and need to be comforted and consoled, so it is tempting to quote the first phrase of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world“, while leaving out the equally-vital third phrase, “that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life“. The thinking and narrative goes something like this: “Since God loves everybody, He wouldn’t send anyone to hell, so they must all be in heaven.” It seems inconceivable that someone we knew and loved, and who was such a “good” person, might be in hell. Is that concept Biblical? So, in light of the entirety of John 3:16, we are going to examine whether “Universalism” is Biblical.

I was a Bagpiper for several years, so I piped nearly a hundred funerals and committal-services. If it was a committal-service for a deceased Veteran, and an Honor Guard performed the service, the message went something like this: “He served faithfully and honorably in this life, so he is in the care of our great Commander in the sky. He has joined that great Army in Heaven.” There was just one sad problem with that narrative; nobody really knew the true spiritual-condition of the person when he took his last breath. They were making a comforting, but dangerous, assumption.

One of the most difficult, yet most comforting funerals I piped was for the Chief of a small, rural volunteer Fire Department, which was held at a small country church. I was a Firefighter at another volunteer Fire Department in the area, so I had met and worked with him a couple of times. His pastor described his great faith, how he loved the Lord, and how he loved to read and teach from his tattered, dog-eared Bible. That was music to my ears and comfort to my soul, and if there is a Fire Department in Heaven, he is there when he isn’t teaching others more from the Bible.

Do you see the difference? “Universalism” provides a false hope and false comfort; while we have the true hope of seeing those we knew and loved again if they were trusting in Christ alone for their salvation.

Into John 3:16…

For God so loved the world…
Yes, God DOES love His creation, and we were created to have a relationship with Him, but our sin has separated us from God and destroyed that relationship. Sin has real consequences, and one of those consequences is eternal-separation from God. God could have terminated or rebooted His human-project after Adam and Eve sinned, but He didn’t. God could even have accepted the “new-normal“, but He didn’t. He kicked His plan of redemption in high-gear with the promise of a Savior in Genesis 3:15. It wasn’t going to be easy for God to restore us to a right-relationship with Him. His own Son was going to have to become a human and bear the just-punishment we deserve in our stead. If “Universalism” was true, we would have had no need for a Savior.

That He gave His only begotten Son…
Jesus Christ came to earth with a mission, sent by God the Father, to enter our battle, to stand in front of us in our fire-fight, to take the bullets we would have taken, to stand between us and the wrath of a Holy God, to die the death that we deserve, to become our Savior. He came willingly, even relishing the battle, because He loves us that much. If “Universalism” was true, Jesus Christ would not have needed to come to earth to die in our stead.

That whosoever believes in Him…
This isn’t just passive-acceptance that Jesus is God-incarnate and came to save sinners; it is active-belief, marked by a changed-life and a fresh love for God. It is a heart-felt understanding that we can’t save ourselves, but Jesus Christ came to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves. If “Universalism” was true, it wouldn’t matter what you believe, because even Atheists are going to Heaven.

Shall not perish…
This isn’t some empty-hope; it is an iron-clad promise. If you are trusting in Christ alone for your salvation, your eternal-destiny is secure, guaranteed by Christ himself, but if you are trusting in “Universalism” for your salvation, you are dead in your sins, and when you take your last breath, you will go into eternal-separation from God, Hell.

But have eternal life…
There is an eternal-reward for putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, entering into His joyous-presence and being with Him forever. That alternative isn’t pretty.

Is “Universalism” true and Biblical? Don’t bet your soul and eternal-destiny on it, because you WILL lose. There is ONLY one way into Heaven, and that is by accepting and believing the truth, as laid-out in John 3:16.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

In Christ,
Steve

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